Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2020-79

Common name:

McCown's Longspur  [Now Thick-billed Longspur]

Scientific name: Rhynchophanes mccownii
Date: Dec 14, 2020
Time: 15:00
Length of time observed: 2 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: Harold Crane WMA
County: Weber
Latilong: 41.314017 112.192787
Elevation: 4214
Distance to bird: 30 yards
Optical equipment: 60 mm scope w/18-40x zoom
Weather: Sunny, cold, fresh patchy snow
Light Conditions:  Bright
Description:        Size of bird: Sparrow-sized
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Passerine
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Streaky and bland
(Description:)            Bill Type: Conical
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Small pale conical bill smaller in proportion to head than nearby Lapland Longspur's bill to head. Bland pale face with wide beige supercilium; no warm or golden tones or dark markings on face, particularly auriculars not outlined. Rusty wing bar visible in profile view. Lower body not seen as bird was hunkering down in pickleweed as it fed, more obscured than Lapland Longspur in the same view. Turned toward me once and showed dull streaked crown and striking but irregular black bib visible. Tail pattern not seen.
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard.
Behavior: Foraging in pickleweed on expansive playa with Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs. This bird appeared to hunker down in the pickleweed deeper than a Lapland in the same view or Horned Larks all around; consequently, I never saw the belly or tail. Flushed after this short observation; flocks very flighty, as usual.
Habitat: Playa
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Combination of bland pale face, rusty wing bar and irregular black bib eliminate the other three longspur species and Horned Larks. While some sparrow species have rusty wing bars or shoulder patches, none also have a small pale bill, a black bib or the extent of bland low-contrast head markings this bird showed.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
MCLO seen twice in Utah; records 2010-03 and likely the birds in the 2017-72-series records
References consulted: Sibley
Description from: From memory
Observer: Kristin M. Purdy
Observer's address: Ogden
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Audible report by Kendall Watkins and Quinn Diaz on 12/6/2020 in eBird checklist:

Audible report by Lauri Taylor and Vivian Schneggenburger on 12/7/2020 in eBird checklist:

Audible report on 12/07/2020 by David Wheeler in eBird checklist:
Date prepared: Dec 14, 2020
Additional material:  
Additional comments: